The Adewunmi Desalu Parkinson’s Foundation recently hosted its first Parkinson’s Disease Symposium in Lagos, to create awareness about the disease.
The conference brought together local and international experts, advocates, and stakeholders in Parkinson’s disease management, care, and support to discuss the challenges faced by the Nigerian healthcare system in meeting the needs of patients and their families and also proffer solutions.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement. It is caused by a loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. Symptoms include tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but medication and therapy can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
According to Ikechukwu Aganweze, Consultant Neurologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), risk factors associated with Parkison’s disease (PD) vary.
“Age is the single most important risk factor for PD,” he said.
“Only five percent to 10 percent of patients are diagnosed before the age of 50, and the interplay of genetic and environmental factors plays a huge role. A very strong environmental factor is exposure to pesticides, consumption of dairy products, head injury(TBI), and rural living,” he further said.
Speaking further, he said consumption of coffee, smoking, physical activity, and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is associated with lower risk for Parkinson’s disease.
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Aganweze further identified challenges to managing Parkinson’s Disease (PD) in Nigeria to include underdiagnosis, lack of affordable drug treatment, medical supervision, and awareness.
Delays in diagnosis and traditional medicine used in rural areas, as well as stigma and superstition also contribute to the issue.
According to the experts, possible solutions include awareness creation, research funding, healthcare worker education, and neurologist training on treatment improvements like deep brain stimulation and exercise.
The symposium featured a panel discussion on the way forward with PD in Nigeria where Dalton Oke from ABC Health emphasised the need to combine resources for maximum impact.
“I look at what ADPF has done, their model and I say this should be replicated not just in Nigeria but across Africa,” he said. “We have people who want to invest but the little they do by themselves are just droplets and what we need to do is just put those droplets together and have a big bucket that will actually make a huge impact globally,” Oke said.
According to Oluyemisi Adedayo, executive director of ADPF, the Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of people living with Parkinson’s in Nigeria.
“The symposium, which will be held annually, is part of the foundation’s initiatives to raise awareness and improve care and support for individuals affected by Parkinson’s disease in Nigeria,” she said.
The inaugural symposium was also held in honour of Adewunmi Desalu’s posthumous 80th birthday, as his wife, Omorinsojo Desalu, and children established the Foundation in his memory.